The rapid growth of monobank: unexpected success or well-thought-out virality?

This article will be interesting for online entrepreneurs, marketing specialists and all those who are interested in learning what the monobank’s rapid growth is based on, how their marketing strategy works , and how to apply similar tactics and strategies in their business to successfully launch and attract more customers.


I have never worked on a monobank team. All the conclusions in this article are based on my personal experience of interacting with the brand and monobank products, as well as on the basis of personal observations of the development and marketing campaigns of the brand.

Why is the monobank case worth attention

monobank was launched in November 2017. After 12 months, the team said that the bank has already issued more than 600 thousand cards.

And in July 2019, the team announced that the number of bank customers had broken the 1,100,000 customer mark.

The people who created the project recognize that they themselves are witnesses to a very rapid growth in the customer base, which exceeds their own expectations.

It is noteworthy that this success was possible if there was a strong player in the market – PrivatBank – which, it would seem, had long since closed all the issues in the world of online banking in Ukraine and is a giant that is impossible to compete with.

In other words, in 12 months, monobank managed to gather an army of fans in a highly competitive market. , where a large share belongs to one player.

In addition, the creators say that the main channel for attracting new customers, namely almost 80% , is organic, that is word of mouth. Today monobank boasts unprecedented growth for the banking services market, also with minimal promotion costs

Anyway, if you analyze the actions of the Fintech Band (Monobank developer company) in detail, you get the impression that the product was developed and launched “according to the instructions” or, if you like, “according to the textbook”.

Therefore, entrepreneurs and marketers definitely have something to learn from this story.

We will analyze in detail what exactly the successful launch of monobank is specifically due to.

Three “M” monobank marketing plan

In order to understand what lies at the heart of monobank’s marketing strategy, like any other company, complex research is not needed. Just find out what the key elements look like – Market, Medium, Message.

All other marketing campaigns, the launch of new products and the brand image are based on these three simple components.

Market (Market and audience)

Despite the oversaturation of the banking services market by the providers of these services, each bank has its own audience and a loyal customer base. She, in turn, is formed on the basis of personal preferences, likes, habits or external factors (the employer pays his salary through this bank).

And it is the presence of this audience that determines the level of success of the company.

But entering the market with a new product, monobank differentiated itself from the mass of other banks, clearly defining the target audience : digital, smart, progressive youth.

I know, it may seem that it is taken out of context. But it is obvious that Oleg Gorokhovsky (co-founder of monobank) sees his CA in this way.

This does not mean at all that the portrait of the ideal monobank client looks like:

Vitalik, graphic designer. 28 years. Revenue $ 1,500 / month. Meets with freelancer Natasha. Resting twice a year abroad. Vegetarian. Born in Kherson, lives in Kiev … etc.

(I hope he really doesn’t look like that. Otherwise, disappointment awaits me)

Constructing a target audience based on fictional portraits is the most stupid and, unfortunately, a common mistake made by many marketers.

Portraits of clients in the form of a fictitious description and abstract characteristics of a nonexistent character – this is complete nonsense.

Because the set of demographic data is of no use and does not help to determine the starting point for building marketing campaigns and building communication with the audience.

What you really need is  a set of psychographic data that helps determine goals, fears, inner beliefs, life views, dreams and ambitions of the target audience.

Therefore, digital, smart, progressive youth are people of any age (because youth is a state of mind, worldview and mind, and not age according to the passport) who can be involved in absolutely any industry, live in any city and who:

  • Strive for greater freedom, mobility and financial independence.
  • Easily versed in new digital technologies.
  • They welcome innovations and want to be one of the first to start using them.
  • Easy to accept change.
  • Appreciate personal safety.
  • Spend a lot of time in social networks and instant messengers.
  • They do not like social cliches and stereotypes.
  • Do not mind chasing trends.
  • Keep up with the latest news and news.
  • Have a good sense of humor.
  • They prefer a relaxed smile to tense formalities.
  • They value speed, flexibility, freedom and remote interaction.
  • They do not like bureaucracy and extra “pieces of paper”, for which you need to defend a long line.

Just these characteristics make it possible to correctly build marketing strategies, come up with slogans and draw banners for paid advertising, shoot commercials, write sales texts for landing pages and develop a dialogue with the target audience in every way.

Because it is precisely the psychographic characteristics that help you understand what rhetoric you need to use in marketing messages, what to focus on when forming your UTP (a unique selling proposition), and what color to use in the design of the site.

Assumptions or even knowledge that your ideal client Vitalik is 28 years old and he is from Kherson will not help you solve such problems in any way.

Despite the fact that demographic characteristics are an important element for creating portraits of ideal customers and play a significant role in setting up online advertising campaigns, they are still secondary. Although, many startups inventing a portrait of an ideal client based on guesses and assumptions, believe that the work is done.

Let’s get back to marketing strategy monobank .

Based on the comprehensive characteristics of the target audience, the following two elements of the monobank marketing strategy were built – communication channels and key message.

Medium (channels of communication with the audience)

Everything is quite simple here. As soon as monobank decided on an audience, the channels were determined naturally.

Because you do not define communication channels. They are dictated by the audience.

Because it’s much easier and more correct for the brand to adapt to the existing habits of the target audience than to try to break the old ones and impose their own ones, new ones. Moreover, in the early stages of getting to know the brand, the audience is not yet ready to follow it and change something in their usual lifestyle, including the communication environment, leisure activities (social networks, sites, platforms).

Therefore, communication with the audience takes place where the audience itself lives.

Thus, to communicate with an existing audience and attract new customers, channels were chosen where you can most often meet digital, smart, progressive youth – YouTube, Facebook, Telegram + media sites that cover interesting events from the world of business and technology.

This is where you can see the regular activity of the brand and key team members.

In turn, a clear definition of communication channels affected the organization of the monobank support service. Instead of complex call centers or home-made online chats, monobank helps to solve the problems of its customers where it is more convenient for customers – in their favorite instant messengers.


Having determined the target audience and communication channels with it, it remains to determine how and with the help of which message to build a dialogue with potential customers.

Here, too, everything is captured by monobank.

The main message is  “The first mobile-only bank in Ukraine for progressive youth with favorable loan conditions, cashback and a convenient application”

Ease, simplicity, humor and unobtrusiveness are clearly traced in the brand’s voice. And sometimes even insolence and self-confidence, as a startup believes, who was going to “change the rules of the game”.

This message is visible everywhere:

  • Landing page. Bright colors, minimalism and simple words.
  • Commercials. Insolence and a certain arrogance in relation to other banks of Ukraine.
  • Support service. You will not be called by middle name, but emojis are happy to use in their messages.
  • Stylish card design.
  • Memes stickers with cats.
  • Humorous content on social networks.
  • Vocabulary used in letters and updates. No formalities, simple and affordable, conversational tone of messages.

Yes. They removed everything that young and progressive youth does not like. And they added those elements for which their target audience would want to associate themselves with the monobank brand .

Three “Ms” on which the monobank marketing plan is built

Market : digital, smart, progressive youth.
Media : YouTube, Facebook, instant messengers.
Message : “The first mobile-only bank in Ukraine for progressive youth with favorable loan conditions, cashback and a convenient application” + lack of formalities, simple language, humor.

With one sentence, a marketing plan can be summarized and formalized as follows:

“We (monobank) will promote a mobile-only bank for digital, smart and progressive youth with favorable loan conditions, cashback and a convenient application using YouTube, Facebook, mobile messengers and the personal brand of Fintech Band members

monobank vs PrivatBank: The classic battle of David and Goliath or just filling the void in the market?

In its first year of operation, monobank has been able to achieve rapid growth in a crowded market. Moreover, they did this in a market where a large share belongs to one of the most high-tech banks in Europe.

How and why did they succeed?

Every year, dozens of banks open in Ukraine. And every year dozens of banks close.

If you do not go into an in-depth analysis, then at first glance it may seem that, despite its disadvantages, the Ukrainian banking services market is at a formation stage where large and reliable players who satisfy the needs of an average client by 99.9% are clearly visible.

It would seem that in such an industry saturated with competitors, it’s hard to offer something else that can make customers change their minds to change the bank.

But, in fact, this is not so.

In such established and established markets, there is always a place for disruptive technologies – those that violate the banal device and make you reconsider the “big picture”.

Moreover, disruptive technology is rarely something massive, powerful, and equipped with a large number of tools. On the contrary, products based on disruptive technologies are often cheaper, simpler, smaller and more convenient.

Monobank entered the market with a completely new and, most importantly, a different USP (unique selling proposition).

Their product was qualitatively different from those already on the market. Moreover, he was not just different. He was exactly what his target audience needed.

UTP PrivatBank: The largest and most affordable network of branches and ATMs in the country, along with a mobile application that already knows almost everything .

After the launch of Privat24 back in 2001, PrivatBank did everything according to the instructions: they listened to their users, tested hypotheses and gradually added new functionality. Expanding the capabilities of the application, they tried to attract the widest possible audience, who would also find something useful for themselves in Privat24.

Today through Privat24 you can buy tickets, make a charity contribution, and even order delivery of fried dumplings to the office …

Moving too fast in pursuit of the title of the most technologically advanced, at some point, Privat24 began to “re-satisfy” the needs of the market, thereby creating a vacuum for a simpler product.

In 2017, monobank filled this niche by presenting the product with a different USP and proper positioning. .

They suggested the complete absence of branches and their own ATMs, along with a mobile application that can and does just what it really needs.

In other words, they made it easier. In turn, simplicity has created more benefits for the client.

Because they compensated for the lack of their own infrastructure by the absence of commissions, generous cashback and loyal loan conditions.

X axis – time; along the Y axis – the conditional number of services of banks and features of their mobile applications

Monobank is a classic example of the successful implementation of the blue ocean strategy. While most of the country’s banks are trying to survive the battle for customers and drown in the red ocean one by one, the monobank, spreading its sails, floats in blue without obstacles.

They focused on simplifying the product as much as possible and focused on features that play a decisive role in choosing a banking service provider for their target audience.

monobank entered the market with four killer features:

  1. Instant money transfers to the card of any bank of Ukraine.
  2. Cashback when paying by card for a large list of goods and services.
  3. A simple, beautiful and convenient mobile application.
  4. Large credit limit and interest-free use of credit funds for more than two months.
  5. The absence of the majority of commissions for payments, transfers, account replenishment, etc.

At the same time, the presence of developed branch infrastructure is not critical for the target audience of monobank, because progressive young people value speed, flexibility and remote interaction. These things do not fit in with concrete offices in “convenient places”, in which you have to wait in line to get an answer to your question.

As for ATMs, there are already thousands of them on the streets of Ukrainian cities. Perhaps it will be easier and cheaper to find the opportunity to use the existing infrastructure than to build your own? Definitely.

Therefore, instead of a battle for a place in the sun between monobank and PrivatBank, which everyone was waiting for, we see a fairly organic entry of a new player into the banking services market and quiet coexistence with the old giant.

Because, even if their audiences intersect, the USP of these banks are completely different and they love everyone for their advantages.

Viral monobank growth. How did they do it

Viral growth is a very rapid increase in the customer base due to the distribution of product information by existing customers. Most often this happens due to the active sending by users of their friends and acquaintances of an invitation for a fee (referral system) or personal recommendations (word of mouth).

This phenomenon is called viral, because company / product information is distributed among people like a virus.

Such growth is accompanied by active media coverage, increased brand awareness and a significant reduction in marketing costs (as new customers come almost free of charge).

The growth of monobank can be called truly viral, as conversations about monobank developed faster than the team managed to launch any marketing campaigns.

And most people, however, began to use the services of monobank thanks to the recommendations of their friends, acquaintances and relatives.

Source of virality

Many believe that virality is a matter of chance. And it is most often achieved by chance.

In fact, this is a big mistake.

If we talk about the virality of videos with funny cats or epic phrases from YouTube, here, however, you can rely on luck.

Although if you look at it from a marketing point of view, even a video with cats initially has what provides the same viral effect: the more your friends know about the video and watch it, the more benefit you will get – you can laugh with friends at the same time , and will be added to your karma for a good recommendation.

In other words, the more and more often you recommend a product, the more you benefit from it.

Therefore, if one understands the nature of virality, it can be planned and controlled.

And if you want to rely on virality, then you should not first of all hope that people will recommend the product only because it is very good.

People are inherently lazy and rarely do things without good motivation.

Therefore, to increase the chances of achieving virality, it is necessary to create the basis for its appearance. And we are talking about the features of the product.

Product features should work in such a way that the user benefits if other people from his environment begin to use the product.

3 features of monobank that made its growth viral

1. Referral system

The system of bonuses and rewards for recommending the product to other people is one of the simplest and most proven tools for promoting the product, which turns users into brand promoters from the very first day of using the product or service.

This approach works great for Dropbox, AirBnB, Trelolo, Evernote, and hundreds of other companies.

The main conditions for a successful referral system that will bring results are:

  • An honest and valuable recommendation bonus that fits perfectly with the product context.
  • A very easy way to invite a friend. A simple scheme is needed that does not require additional time investment to understand.
  • An excellent product that I want to recommend. When recommending a product to friends, users risk their personal reputation. Therefore, it is important that the product is excellent. Otherwise, the first two points have no meaning.

For a successful invitation of a friend to install the application and activate the card, monobank rewards users (both: invite and invite) in the form of a bonus of 50 UAH to the cashback account.

A brief summary of the secrets to the success of the monobank referral system:

  1. Cash reward is a great bonus that fits the context of the product. They did not offer “bonus points for a discount at the Epicenter” or something like that. They simply offered money that is clear, simple, and everyone loves them.
  2. Reward 50 UAH. Generously enough? Quite. This is a good bonus for simple actions that sounds decent and more than honest.
  3. The simplicity of inviting a friend is maximum. Three clicks in the application and sending an invitation link in a user-friendly way.
  4. A good product that is not ashamed to recommend. Monobank is just like that – it was recommended without fear for its reputation.
monobank did a great job developing the referral system. And most importantly, it worked.

I myself have never been present in situations where a company of friends while talking at the table started talking about monobank. And when it turned out that someone from the team still did not have a monobank card, the rest of the friends started arguing who would make the invitation and reached into their pocket for speed on the phone in order to send the link to a friend as soon as possible.

They knew that their reputation was safe, karma for a good recommendation would increase, and UAH 50 in the form of cashback was provided.

But besides the private recommendations that occurred between friends, colleagues and within the family, there was a separate group of people who tried to get the most out of the monobank referral system.

We are talking about people who have large audiences – bloggers.

At a certain point, it became impossible not to notice the progress of monobank by bloggers and webmasters, because their referral links were everywhere – YouTube, Telegram, Instagram.

Even today, the first three videos in the YouTube search results for “monobank” are the same “reviews with a link in the description”

2. 100% money transfers between monobank cards without commissions

PrivatBank made P2P transfers between Privat cardholders as usual.

But as soon as the need arose to make a transfer to the card of another bank, difficulties immediately arose.

Another site, another procedure.

monobank simplified the whole process as much as possible. The application allows you to make money transfers to cards of any bank without a commission. You need to enter the card number, transfer amount and confirm the payment is sent.

But, besides this, here again an element was added to the product’s functionality that enhanced the effect of virality. The value of the product for the user increased with an increase in the number of acquaintances and friends who also used the product.

The more people from your phone book using monobank, the more convenient it is for you to transfer money quickly and conveniently if necessary.

Seems trivial? Maybe.

But basic psychology says that a person is a creature that has a strong need to be part of a community. Therefore, on a subconscious level, we all want our environment to also be part of an ecosystem that we ourselves enter.

3. A really good product that exceeded consumer expectations and which made you talk about yourself

The target audience of monobank is a progressive part of the population, which is important for flexibility, speed and reliability.

Fintech Band has created a product that is ideally suited to the tastes, trends and basic needs of the target audience.

People appreciated the simple and at the same time elegant design of the plastic card, unobtrusive humor and ease of communication and interaction with the bank, the possibility of simple and quick transfers, cashback and a long period of interest-free use of credit funds.

As mentioned earlier, a high NPS (Net Promoter Score) is achieved only if a high level of product satisfaction is achieved. This, in turn, is ensured by a good correspondence between expectations and reality.

Despite local application bugs and questions about some functions and the conditions of their services, I believe that monobank was able to largely exceed user expectations. This is exactly what turned the customer base into an army of fans who want to talk about the product to others.

Fuel for a quick start

Finally, it must be added that this whole car, no matter how good it was, will not budge without a quick and timely acceleration.

It doesn’t matter how many chips your product has. It doesn’t matter how on time and in the right niche you start. It doesn’t matter which viral elements are built into the functionality. This is all not important if there is no one to sell this product.

Fintech Banda understood this perfectly and paved the way for the first step.

The launch of monobank also took place “as if in a textbook”:

Audience first. Startup second

They did not silently, secretly from everyone, make a product and try to sell it only after a public launch.

The idea of ​​a mobile bank without branches found its first cohort of fans long before the launch.

monobank launched a “First audience. Then a startup. ”

They went the right way: They created an audience, anticipation and excitement even before they announced the launch of the product.

The sequence is key. They found the first customers and made the target audience wait for the release before launching the product. And not vice versa.

It also became possible due to the high activity of the founders of monobank on social networks. They grew a base of readers and followers for a long time before asking the same audience to become users of their product.

Oleg Gorokhovsky, Misha Rogalsky and Dmitry Dubilet have an impressive number of readers on personal blogs, pages on social networks, Telegram channels, as well as high recognition among the new generation of entrepreneurs.

Dmitry alone – the frontman and face of the Monobank brand – has a huge readership on Facebook – 124+ thousand. Almost 50 thousand follow the banker on Instagram and about the same number of people read his channel on Telegram.

And while the product was at the stage of idea, then development, they constantly fueled interest in a future release, thereby building the base of the first followers in advance.

A large number of beta users and a solid subscriber base that monitored the personal brands of monobank founders created a solid foundation for a successful start.

The team created an audience – the very group of early adopters, raving fans and brand evangelists – even before the launch. As a result, these people helped to quickly validate the ideas of the team in practice and became the engine of the rapid growth of monobank.

Personal brand of Dmitry Dubilet

If we return to the discussion of the role played by the personal brand of Dmitry Dubilet and other co-founders of monobank in the early success of the brand, it is worth noting that it has largely become key.

Such bold approaches to creating a brand were possible only thanks to a large credit of audience trust in its creators.

The creators managed to launch a product that has a pronounced identity, style, voice and charisma in a fairly conservative market, where everything is done according to the rules.

And we will be honest. Launch such an idea “promising guys from the hostel of the KPI”, everyone would appreciate their efforts and thank for the attempt.

At Dubilet, everything was different. His expertise and experience gained while working in PrivatBank, where he already had a certain freedom of action and space for creativity, made it possible to get the audience and fans of his professional activity.

A beautiful career history, an interesting personality and sound ideas still arouse great interest of the young audience in the founder of monobank.

Therefore, there was no surprise for anyone to see Dmitry Dubilet speaking on the stages of the largest conferences, as well as giving interviews to Ukrainian entrepreneurs and video bloggers who conduct YouTube channels where the target audience is gathered.

I managed to count at least 7 large interviews, the popularity of which is estimated at approximately 1.5 million views.

Wanting to talk about life or part of a marketing campaign to increase brand awareness? Definitely the second. Moreover, with very impressive results.

PR campaigns

In addition to actively visiting YouTube channels and speaking at profile conferences with Dublet, a good PR campaign was held immediately after the launch , which allowed monobank to light up on such resources as AIN and MC Today. Despite the relatively small coverage, these resources are read by the most relevant audience for monobank.

Therefore, every mention of the service on these resources increases brand awareness and, of course, the customer base.

Such references today occur quite often, since monobank gives good informational reasons – new features of the application, new services, new records in the number of cards issued and a growing interest in the product and the personal brand of its creators.

There are already several dozen such references on news sites and online magazines. And this is only a year and a half of the bank’s work.

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